It’s been a bit tough to sleep for me because of so many reasons being couped up inside and not being able to meet in large gatherings and because of the systematic racism that is still taking place.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine and there was some guilt and shame associated with not having a lot of these struggles that many blacks experience across the globe. Luckily, we have a relationship where he feels open enough to share with me. I said something that was very hurtful to me, and he told me that he couldn’t sleep because of it.
For context, he is a black male living in New Jersey. I told him I wanted to interview him for my podcast and said you are well-spoken, and that would resonate with my educated audience with many of the professionals I work with. I had a feeling in my stomach that didn’t land right. I caught up with him a few days later, and he told me that really hurt his feelings, and I realized then that 1. I have a long way to go in my allyship and 2. My intention of doing the podcast was not in alignment with the impact that it created by saying those hateful comments.
At Linkedin at our Global Sales Kick off, we had a workshop where many black males shared with us about how they face these unconscious word choices that offend my black male colleagues. They say if I were white then you would never say that I am well-spoken, articulate, or an eloquent speaker. Maybe people mean well, but that’s not the point. The point is how the other person is left feeling after your interaction. Many will justify it with well I meant it as a compliment. When people say aren’t Asians suppose to be good at math or you guys never experience any adversity, I’ve had colleagues say statistically speaking Asians are doing so much better than everyone else. How is that suppose to make me feel?
I started to reflect on why this is important to me to bring up this topic and start a conversation to have others take a look inwards, and I recall so many times where people make jokes about Asian males and our lack of masculinity shown in mainstream media. Many of the Asian males play roles where they are the nerd or geeks or the victim who gets bullied and beaten up by the more masculine characters. How about that as a confident booster growing up and all of your TV you watch show a certain archetype of what many would consider models for a teenager or young adult.
How many times have you made a joke about an Asian male and our packages? I remember growing up, and still, to this day as a professional in the workforce, I still get inappropriate comments like you should take testosterone because you are not aggressive enough. I do understand that people often project, and the most insecure people are the ones that are saying these things. I’ll never forget when one of my best friends in high school said some racist comments because of a mistake I’ve made, and from that day on, I could never trust white people. That was my story until I did Accomplishment Coaching and realized that I had to heal some trauma there. Years of therapy and workshops/coaching later, I am much more receptive to trusting Caucasians, but I do notice how I automatically close myself off in most instances.
I remember being bullied at a previous company, and I was so afraid to come to work. Not only did it add to my depression, and I felt like such an imposter every day because I was often the only Asian person not only in sales but at this Private Equity, HedgeFund, Family office events.
The point in me sharing these stories is that we are often now aware that we make a lot of these hurtful comments. Even as an Asian are putting other Asian races down.
Being Vietnamese and ironically never even having been gone to Asia in my lifetime yet… white people often ask me where am I from? I say New Jersey, no, they say before that.
“I was born in New Jersey….”
“No, where are your parents from?”
You could have just asked me what nationality I am, but I would have just say American.
It starts with yourself and noticing when you make comments. All I am asking is to be more aware of your comments and unconscious bias and or microaggressions.
I make these mistakes all of the time, and I am certainly not perfect clearly stated in my first story. It breaks my heart that he was not able to sleep well because of my hurtful comments. I know what it’s like because I’ve had so many of these comments as well on the track team when this happened at a friend’s birthday party. You never want others to say, Is it true that Asians have small penises?
I did a simple exercise the other day, where I thought what if George Floyd is my good friends Melvin, Edwin, or Aaron… I would fkin devastated I cried like a baby yesterday when I even thought of it. Although, I’ll never truly understand what black people go through in today’s age I can have the compassion and remember back to how little I felt when I get these racist comments more often then you would think and how much it hurts when it was from your closest friends people you have spent hundreds of hours with every month inside and outside of school.
Thanks for making it this far, I know it’s not an easy topic for many but starting to think of instances where you may have say something that could have impacted someone in the wrong way is the first step.
Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
Davidson is an avid networker, personal growth- life and business coach.
He loves spreading the love and regularly helps people create and design the life they want for themselves.